My initial instinct in writing this piece was to call it the Mission Report. After all that’s what congregations want when their missionaries come back from a trip: a report on what happened, where the money went, how it impacted the community and all that good stuff. Now I believe that there is nothing wrong with that, but this was not a dollars and cents kind of mission. Yes we brought school supplies for the kids we’d be working with, yes we provided material goods for the retreat center where we worked for a week. But none of that was the focus of this trip. The focus of this trip was children, and it is not the kind of thing that be broken down into a report. So over this next week, I’m going to tell you a story from our trip starting today with a story about family.
I went on this trip with my family. My wife, Joan was the one who originally got me invested in Pine Ridge. Her parents (Bill and Martha) and her brother (Will) also came with us. Now I know most people have this thing about their in-laws but I don’t. I think that stems from my mother’s Cuban side in which in-law does not exist. You are either family or you aren’t, and the Spanish language reflects that. The sixth person on the trip is my unofficially adopted hermanita (little sister) Yireh. She’s short, Puerto Rican, and a riot. I’m sure if she ever reads this she will object in not mild language to my description of her that way, but hey what are brother for?
We took two and a half days to drive out to the reservation in a rented minivan, but not a soccer mom kind of mini-van this one looked more like a truck. Now most of that time is a blur. I remember writing some poetry, trying to post to twitter, laughing at each other but for the most part all I can remember is that over the course of those days, I was reminded about a simple fact about family. Now it’s the kind of fact that you might see and think “well duh” but as my wife will tell you I have my slow days.
A family loves one another. A family is ready and eager to loving other people. A family is built on a foundation of love.
And I want to start here because it is the kind of fact that we need to put in front of our faces and hold onto. It’s the kind of fact that if we don’t know that we’re holding onto it, if we don’t remind ourselves that it’s there, then we are more likely to lose it.